5 common pitfalls of al fresco dining, and how to avoid them

5 common pitfalls of al fresco dining, and how to avoid them

Alfresco dining

As the weather gets warmer, guests often want to migrate outside to make the most of the sunshine. But while the seating arrangements change slightly, the service expectations don’t, and new challenges and frustrations can easily crop up. Here are some of the most common guest grievances arising from al fresco dining, and how to get around them.

1. Give guests space

Arrange furniture with care, allowing more space than usual between the tables; al fresco diners are often accompanied by pets, or pushchairs and buggies, which take up floor space around tables. If you want your space to be considered pet-friendly, demonstrate this through adding water bowls and keeping them topped up throughout the day.

2. Think about the weather

According to our recent survey, 33% of guests expect to see sun umbrellas out when dining al fresco, so it’s well worth investing in some. However, make sure that a few stay put down, in order to give guests a choice whether or not to sit in the sun.

3. Protect your furniture

Outside furniture gets messy more quickly than that indoors, and unexpected mess from birds is sure to put guests off their meal. It’s harder to keep clean too, as the rougher texture of picnic tables and benches often requires a scrub to remove spills, rather than a wipe. Make sure your staff are checking the cleanliness of tables and chairs in between seating guests, as well as removing plates quickly to avoid attracting flies and wasps. You can also protect your furniture through simple measures like providing plenty of ashtrays, and making sure there are napkins available outside for mopping up little spills as they happen.

4. Consider the children

Al fresco dining is popular with families, as children can move around more freely and make more noise than is accepted inside. Eating out with children can be stressful for parents, so make sure staff are understanding and friendly, engaging with the children and demonstrating that they’re in a family friendly space. If you have a garden, it may be worth stocking games like giant Jenga to keep children entertained while their parents relax.

5. Maintain your service standards

Last but not least, make sure you have adequate staffing and processes in place to ensure your outside guests are not forgotten about at busy times, and service continues as smoothly and efficiently as normal. It should immediately be clear to your guests whether it’s table service, or whether they need order inside – and if they do need to order inside, staff still need to be on top of check backs in case of problems. If most guests are eating al fresco, be careful not to ignore or overlook anyone sat inside. Detailed guest feedback, such as through our mystery dining service, can help your business fine-tune your al fresco dining guest experience.

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